Astronomy news for the two weeks starting Friday, October 21,
d The next skylights will appear November 18, 2016.
Daylight Time ends on Sunday, November 6, so the clocks get turned back
an hour. All times below are standard.
We first see a bit of the fat waxing crescent
Moon, the phase terminated at first quarter on
Monday, November 7, shortly after moonset in North America. It then
grows and brightens rapidly through waxing
gibbous to full phase on
Monday the 14th again just past moonset. By the time the moon (the
Frosty Moon, the Beaver Moon) rises that night it will already be in the
waning gibbous, which shrinks through the
rest of the fortnight until last quarter
is passed on Monday the 21st with the Moon climbing the eastern sky,
following which it thins in the waning
The Moon passes perigee, where it is
closest to the Earth on Monday the 14th, just three hours before full
for a sort of "supermoon," which is visually not noticeable but that
will bring especially high and low tides to
the coasts. Thanks to the Sun's gravity and other factors, the Moon's
orbit is not quite elliptical, which slightly changes the distance at
perigee, this one being especially close (356,509 km, 221,525 miles),
closer than at any time until 2020.
The night of Monday the 14th, the near-full Moon will lie near the tip the
"vee" that makes the head of Taurus
the Bull as it enters the Hyades star
cluster, the stars rendered near invisible by the Moon except perhaps
for Aldebaran, which will lie just
above the Moon (and is not actually a part of the cluster), the Moon occulting
the star after moonset.
Mars still hangs
around a bit after sunset. Falling only slowly behind the Earth with
sunset getting earlier, the planet will set around 9:30 PM for the rest
of the year. The Moon will appear to the northwest of the planet the
evening of Saturday the 5th, to the northeast of it the following night.
quite overwhelms the red planet, Getting higher each evening, it
sets in the southwest an hour after twilight as our period ends.
We then wait the rest of the night for Jupiter, which rises around 4 AM at the beginning of our period, an hour later
at the end. The Moon will appear to the west of Jupiter the morning of
Thursday the 24th, to the east the following morning.
The Leonid meteor shower, which traditionally hits the morning
of November 17th, will produce very little activity, most of which will
be destroyed by the bright Moon. The shower is the debris of Comet Tempel-Tuttle,
which has a 33-year period around the Sun and long-since passed
The summer constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius disappear to the west. Look now for that great
sign of fall, the lonely star Fomalhaut of Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish), which crosses the
southern horizon in mid-evening. Directly above lies the zodiacal constellation Aquarius with its "Y"-shaped water jar. If
you are far enough south, you might meet Grus, the Crane, which indeed looks like a giant bird
stalking the horizon in advance of Fomalhaut.